Sound Formats and History
Practical sound recording began with Thomas Edison in 1877 with the cylinder phonograph and many cylinders of early recordings still exist.
Very soon after the development of the cylinder phonograph Emile Berliner patented the gramophone recording on a flat disc and this became the general basis for the record industry. Early records were made of different materials, used different groove sizes, different recording standards and were run at different speeds. Eventually though standardisation came in the form of more recent micro groove vinyl records in mono, stereo and even quadraphonic.
Sound movies appeared in the 1920's which was to revolutionise the film industry, although early sound for film was actually on records synchronised to the film projector. In relatively more modern times film sound development has led to higher quality and multi channel cinema sound.
Magnetic recording was demonstrated in principle as early as 1898. Prior to this the radio broadcast industry relied heavily upon pressed entertainment records and direct cut transcriptions as large as 16 inches in diameter for delayed broadcasts.
Magnetic tape recording as we know it today was developed in Germany during the late 1930s. Commercial quality tape recording was developed in the late 1940s and the key players were an American audio engineer John T. Mullin, the entertainer Bing Crosby and Ampex. Multitrack magnetic tape recording followed in the 1950s.
Philips introduced the compact cassette in 1963, soon after and just as the 8 track cartridge was gaining popularity in the USA. The 8 track cartridge has largely now disappeared and the compact cassette although still available has been largely surpassed by the compact disc.
Digital sound recording was introduced in the 1980s firstly in professional mediums and has now filtered into many processes of recording sound. The first compact disc was produced in 1982 not far from where Emile Berliner had produced his first gramophone record 93 years earlier.